Data Governance Capabilities

April 11, 2011
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Been following (and finally participating in) an interesting, thoughtful, thought-provoking online discussion about the similarities / differences of BA and BI. (Business Analytics and Business Intelligence.) About a dozen comments that can be summarized as “a rose by any other name” and many many more that describe one as a subset of the other.

After I finally posted a comment, I realized it could also be applied to the burgeoning field of “Data Governance Software,” which seems to fall into three categories:

Been following (and finally participating in) an interesting, thoughtful, thought-provoking online discussion about the similarities / differences of BA and BI. (Business Analytics and Business Intelligence.) About a dozen comments that can be summarized as “a rose by any other name” and many many more that describe one as a subset of the other.

After I finally posted a comment, I realized it could also be applied to the burgeoning field of “Data Governance Software,” which seems to fall into three categories:

1)  Data Governance workspace
2) Software that embeds “little g governance” controls into Data Quality, MDM architectures, data flows, etc. to enforce and monitor adherence to “little p” data policies
3) Software that helps executives and others have visibility into “Big G Governance” policies, prioritizations, and rules of engagement. 

Now, I know what a Data Governance Workspace looks like. (See www.stakeholdercare.com. This new company licensed the DGI Data Governance  Framework and some of our guidance to create a teamspace specifically for running a data governance program, chronicling the benefits realized by it, running communications, and managing issue flows. I think it’s cool, but of course I would.

And I know what “little g governance” activities look like (and how important they are!), and we can all recognize these in many – if not all – of the software that is now selling itself as “Data Governance Software.”

I’m not sure the Data Governance Institute or the vendors or practitioners have done as good a job as we could have in defining how software helps with an organization’s policy & priorities layer – the “Big G Governance” layer (or, for that matter, the think alignment layer that sits between it and the deep “little g” controls layer). 

And so, as one of my favorite TV characters Barney Stinson would exclaim: “Challenge accepted!” I am going to put thought into mapping what various stakeholders in these layers need, and what capabilities we should all be looking at in these layers. Tool vendors, I challenge you, too. Can we all  start enunciating core capabilities and map them to potential business impacts?

After all, your experiences are probably close to mine… the execs I know who need to sign off on hardware/software/consulting/resource budgets aren’t very interested in dictionary definitions of what Data Governance and Data Quality and MDM are. They want to know what they CAN get out of a capability, what is actually FEASIBLE to get out of it, and what they’re LIKELY to get out of it, considering their environment and constraints.

I would love to see clear,  understandable, applicable, brief Q&As for the capabilities/tools out there marketing themselves in the DG space. Wouldn’t you?